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Timini, Oldest Indian in Northwest Passes - 1917

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Timini, Oldest Indian in Northwest Passes

Venerable Aborigine Passes Away Near Sloan at Age of 120.

Outlived Children

Chief Timini Led Nez Perce Tribes on War Path Fifty Years Ago.

With memories of the days when he led howling hordes of Nez Perces against pale-faced invaders flitting hazily through his mind, Chief Moses Wetas Timini, lone survivor of the band of braves who first resisted the advances of the white man into the great northwest a century ago, passed away into eternity in his tepee near Sloan a few days ago.

Chief Timini was at least 110 years old, and the sages among his Indian associates claim that he had passed the 120-year mark. No accurate information as to his age is available, but he is known to have been a gray-haired man when Duncan McDonald, Charlos and other chiefs were children.

Was Great War Chief.

Timini was a great war chief, as well as the head of his tribe, and boasted of many scalps taken during the years when the Nez Perces were recognized as the most fearless warriors and best riders in the northwest. The Nez Perces held the same relation to the northwest as did the terrible Sioux to the Dakotas and the cruel Apaches to the southwest, and first among the fighting men of the tribe was Timini.

Lewis and Clark Saw Him.

He was born and reared the son of a chief near what is now Pendleton, Ore., and made his home there for over 80 years. Lewis and Clark passed through the country when he was a papoose, riding merrily on the back of his dusky mother. Timini remembered nothing concerning their visit except what he heard around the campfires of his elders, years later, but the first coming of the white traders of the Hudson Bay company into the interior of Oregon was fixed in the memory of the old chief. He was already the head of a family and the chief of his tribe when the first fur-trapper ventured up the Columbia, and it fell to him to enter into negotiations with the pale faces.

May Have Killed Whitman.

The Whitman massacre, in which the brave missionary and his equally brave handful of followers were slaughtered by Indians, has been laid at the hands of the Nez Perces, and as Timini was at the height of his glory at that time, it is probable that he took prominent part in the affair. Many a story of waylaid emigrant wagon-trains, burned after the defenders had been tomahawked, did the venerable chief tell, and many a scar of battle from strife with the white man and the Commanches of the south did he carry.

Came Here 30 Years Ago.

About three decades ago, Chief Timini left the lands of his fathers, the restricting lines of the Umatilla reservation proving too confining, and came to the Flathead reservation. He was then an aged warrior, and had not been active on the war-path or in the hunt for some years. He made his home on Crow creek, near Sloan, and has lived there ever since, reduced to a mere semblance of the glory which he enjoyed as war chief of the Nez Perces.

Children Dead of Old Age.

Timini was married innumerable times, and is survived by his last wife. He was the father of a large number of children, all of whom are dead. It is said that some of them died of old age, though their hardy sire was yet active.

Chief Timini’s remains were brought to St. Ignatius, and there, in the shadows of the old mission, the warrior was laid to rest on July 9.

The above article appeared in The Daily Missoulian on July 17, 1917.

While the author of the above article does not identify any of his sources, the story and subject above have some similarities to the famed Chief Kamiakin, who also spent some time in the Flathead area. Below is a link to a study about Kamiakin that was published by Washington State University in 2008:



Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 January 2018 17:10